For Brides on a Budget

A few of my friends are currently in wedding-planning mode, and I often get to hear about the high cost of achieving the perfect day. Here are a few fabulous websites and blogs dedicated to brides on a budget:

is a social networking site designed to help brides save money by sharing wedding-related resources and goods. Decor, apparel, rentals, and even vendors can be shared, swapped, or sold through Bride$hare connections.

I know what it's like to plan the wedding of your dreams on a dime, so I hope this helps! Here are a few photos from our wedding and some strategies we used to keep our costs down:

1. Keep the ceremony decor to a minimum. Your guests are there to see you exchange your vows, not to hear a symphony orchestra or admire billions of flowers.

2. Decorate the reception simply. We chose a reception location that was naturally beautiful, which saved us a lot of money or decor. A few small centerpieces - which we made ourselves using dollar-store vases and flowers we grew (hydrangea) or ordered in bulk (roses) - and a few floral swags from Michael's were all we needed to personalize the space.

3. Choose flowers that are in-season and keep your bouquets small. This will significantly reduce the florist's price.

4. Keep your gown simple and classic. You will be sure to still love your dress when you look back at your album in 25 years, and you won't pay extra for all the beads and lace.

5. Prioritize. What is most important to you? One thing that was high on our list was photography - the day goes by so fast, we wanted beautiful lasting memories of our day. This is one area where we felt it was worth it to spend a little more money. Decide what is most important to you and concentrate the majority of your funds there.

6. Try to find a reception location that allows you to choose your own caterer and bring your own alcohol. This is one of the most significant areas that cut costs for us. Buying alcohol at store prices is much more affordable than a hotel/restaurant mark-up. Our food was fantastic and we had drinks to spare.

7. DIY Details can add a personal touch and save you a lot of dough. I created my own pomanders, floral letters, coloring books for kids, and guest book. Guests remembered these details and I saved a lot by creating them myself.

8. Keep the cake to three layers or less and have a sheet cake in the back to supplement it. Guests won't know the difference and it will save a ton of dough!

9. Create your own playlist, at least for the dinner music. An iPod and some rented or borrowed speakers can save a ton of money on a D.J. or band, who usually charge by the hour.

10. The biggest money-saver for us was to have our wedding on a Friday. We know this isn't for everyone, but 150 our of our 175 guests attended the wedding and had a blast! The price for the reception location was literally less than half of what it would have been on a Saturday, and we had all day Thursday and Friday to set up in addition to all of Friday evening for the event. If we would have chosen a Saturday we would have had 1-2 hours to set up and 4 hours at the location, or paid triple the cost to secure both Saturday time spaces.

So create a realistic budget, prioritize, and plan the wedding that is right for you - no matter your budget, you can plan a fun and fabulous celebration for you and your guests.

Do you have any money saving tips for brides-to-be? We'd love to hear them!

One Man's Trash...

Is definitely another man's treasure! I could have a field day buying up fun objects from Etsy seller, Sushipotparts. The colors, the textures, the fun and whimsy of it all! It would make a killer art project:

I could spend a fortune in that store! But being the cheap thrifty gal I am, I'll just have to keep my eye out and collect things over time.

Bikini or Bust!

So most of you already have your swimwear at this point of the summer, but I am sadly in need of some new beach duds. This is mostly due to the fact that I rarely venture to any location that would require a bathing suit. No, not because I am embarrassed of how I look. I do, however, have issues with two things - the sun and the water.

Don't get me wrong, I love the sun. My skin, however, does not. I am very pasty fair and due to a history of skin cancer in my family, prefer to stay that way. I get tired of slathering on SPF 70+ sunscreen every couple of hours. Water can be great too, but ever since an issue with a hole in my eardrum, I avoid water in my ears like the plague.

So why am I bikini shopping now, you may ask? Well because of my impending Australia trip of course! There are bound to be situations in Oz where I'm going to need to suit up despite my plethora of bikini-bathing issues. For example, one trip we'll be taking is to Scawfell Island aboard the Odyssey, where we'll be snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef - definitely swimsuit material.

There are certain things in life that get me to hang up my hang-ups. And besides, the other great thing about waiting 'til the end of June to buy your suit - everything's on sale!

Here are some of the top contenders:


Victoria's Secret

Victoria's Secret


Which do you think I should buy?

Bringing the Outdoors In

I would love to have a space where I felt like I was outside while indoors. Our patio is great when the weather is nice, but I don't have a covered space in which to enjoy the outdoors when the weather's not at its best. Here are some fabulous photos for me to dream about:

A Wedding on the Water

Newly engaged couple, Ricki and Dan, wrote to ask me for help with their wedding plans:

Hi Lauren,

Right now Dan and I are strongly considering having our wedding on a boat, either a Spirit of Philadelphia cruise, or the Moshulu, a boat restaurant in Philly. We're thinking about a summer brunch boat wedding...nautical chic? We're not really sure about colors,
but not traditional nautical with navy and all that jazz. Something modern but not frou-frou and princessy...I'm not into that. Sorry, that probably wasn't any help at this point I just need some ideas. We're not getting married until summer of 2011, so I have a lot of time...any ideas would be very appreciated!

Nautical with no navy? No problem! Turquoise, aqua, and gray can be just as water-worthy:

(Click to make larger)

Compasses, rocks, lanterns, and aquas combine to create a super chic nautical wedding!

Update - Ricki wrote:

LOVE IT! Thank you so much! I really like the different color dresses...I haven't decided if I want my bridesmaids wearing all one color, or different, but I really like this palette. Very pretty!

Calla Lilies - Bride's Bouquet
Paper Lanterns - E-FavorMart
Cake -
Grey Suit - Macy's
Hydrangea - Bridesmaid's Bouquets
Ship - Moshulu
Bridesmaid's Dresses - JCrew
Place Cards - Documents & Designs
Lanterns - IKEA
Pillar Candles - 100 Candles
Grey Rocks -
Sandalwood Fans - American Bridal

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